The largest “production” model in the Ferretti line is the 881, the Mk II version of the 880 which was introduced several years ago. The major difference between the two models is that the master stateroom has been completely redesigned and has been transformed into one of the most unusual and exciting master staterooms on any boat I have seen less than 100 feet. There are other improvements on the boat as well, but they are minor in comparison, things such as the stowage space added on the 881 under “peninsula” counter in the galley. Boats of this size should change as users come up with better ideas to utilize space, or new equipment is developed. One builder of large production powerboats brags that no two its boats are alike because they are constantly improving on hull #1.
The 881 is – to my eye – one of the most beautiful, high-speed motoryachts on the market today. But its beauty is more than cosmetic, as the boat is also well-designed and is probably the best engineered and built of any fiberglass production boat this size on the market today.
If you are currently in the market for a motoryacht in this size range, then you know that you’re talking serious money, so a mistake with this purchase could cost you more than simple aggravation. The 881 that we reviewed sells new for about $6.6 million.
Here’s what you need to know--
First, the Ferretti brothers (Alessandro and Norberto) started out as sailboat builders in 1968. That’s a good thing because sailboat builders generally care passionately about the art of boat building. In 1989 Ferretti dedicated itself to state-of-the-art engineering techniques and discipline, and this has made their boats among the best built in the world.
Secondly, in case you hadn’t noticed, Ferretti is located in Italy -- home of Pina Farina, Brancusi, Gucci, and Armani. Since Italy is not much more than one giant peninsula out into the Mediterranean, it is little wonder that the leading European fiberglass boat builders are Italian. And, in the last 20 years Italian styling has swept around the world, leaving most others in their wake.
A Motoryacht’s Mission
The Italians use their boats and motoryachts differently than Americans. Basically, they are used to cruise from the Italian coast to places like Sardinia, the French Rivera, with the more intrepid yachtsmen going to the Dalmatian coast and the Greek Islands. The less intrepid tie the stern of their boat to the dock in some lovely seaside venue and entertain…. entertain, and entertain some more.
Because of the distance Italians must travel when they do venture out of port they need speed to make use of a long weekend, or to take advantage of flat water, or, simply because they like to go fast. Norberto Ferretti is one of the latter. He won the Class 1 Offshore Championship in both 1994 and ’97. So, when the 881 was designed, a major parameter was speed. And, while there are yachts of this size, which are probably faster, speed is not the only mission of the 881.
Ferretti also wanted a comfortable cruising boat with ample room for 10 guests in four staterooms and a crew of from two to four. (In fact, your insurance company will make the call on this subject, and when going offshore you might be required to have three in the crew, which is not a bad idea anyway.) The boat also had to have a comfortable living area inside, and a world-class flying bridge for entertaining, plus a huge water sports activity area on the stern. All of these features make the boat versatile, thus serving the needs of a wide range of owners on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific.
Typically, American cruising yachtsmen like gunkholing and exploring, with family and friends, often with three generations involved: Read children and grandchildren. The two amidships guest staterooms, each with Pullmans can sleep 6 people, and kids will love the Pullmans. And, there is plenty for kids to do on this boat. Ferretti has designed a clever water sports platform, which they call the “Teak Beach.”
The transom hydraulically folds out producing a 90-square foot platform extending out over the water. Not only can this be used for swimming, diving and sun bathing, but it is also a handy dock for the inflatable, jet ski, kayak, or other water toys. When the “Teak Beach” is folded up – sort of like an up side down garage door -- it once again becomes the transom. The garage is about 7” x 15’, meaning there is plenty of room for a jet ski, or scuba tanks and a compressor, a couple of kayaks, a couple of motorbikes, or much of the above.
There is also a hydraulic swim ladder on the port side of the boat and a hydraulic passerrelle extending from the top riser on the starboard stairway to the aft deck. Passerrelles are a necessity in Europe where virtually every boat must moor stern-to at the dock. It is controlled by a touch pad on the aft deck, and by a wireless wand, so you can leave the boat then automatically stow your boarding plank until your return.
Beam Pays Off
The 881 has a 22’ beam and this is one of the most important aspects of the boat and something that sets it apart from most boats in this size range. The “extra” beam ( boats 90’ long more likely have a 20’ beam, some even less) gives the boat over 380 more square feet of living and deck space compared with a similar-sized boat with a 20’ beam. That makes the boat huge. So when comparing one boat to another, figure that the extra fiberglass, materials and labor to construct this boat cost the yard around $750,000 more than one with a 20-foot beam. And, of course, he beamier boat will ride much better, all other things being equal.
The ample beam pays off all over the boat. For example, the VIP stateroom is in the bow and is the largest you’ll find on an 88-footer of this type. Note that it has built-in seats to port and starboard of the queen-sized bed and there is plenty of cabin sole area on both sides of the bed. . In the main salon, there is plenty of room for a dinning table for eight athawartship, rather than fore and aft. And, as mentioned, it makes for a huge master.
The extra beam also permits traditional side decks which lets the boat look more yachty and makes line handling much easer, yet it still carries a wide main salon. Any captain will tell you that side decks are worth an extra crewman. And, in the engine room, there is complete and easy access outboard of the 16V 2000-horsepower MTU diesel engines.
The Italians love to play in the sun, and the 881’s flying bridge is second to none in its class. There are two huge sun pads on the bridge, seating for at least 12, a secondary helm complete with retractable instrument panel, a mini galley complete with frig, stove top, sink and serving bar –plus, the centerpiece for entertaining: a large hot tub with Jacuzzi. Further aft there is room for an inflatable and jet ski on the boat deck. A hardtop option is also available, and we recommend that.
Engine Room and Crew Quarters
One of the most innovative aspects of this boat is the placement of the engine room and crew quarters. The first thing Ferretti did was to install ZF V-Drive marine gears for the massive MTUs. This allows the engines to be placed about 6’ farther aft than they would be otherwise, thus giving you a like amount of extra living space. Years ago V-drives did not have a good reputation in the U.S. However, the rugged, industrial V-drives made by companies such as ZF and Twin Disc now provide good reliability. Obviously, some power is lost in the “V” gearing, but with a 30-knot top speed in the 881, this does not seem to be much of a consideration.
Second, the company has separated the four diesel engines (the two MTUs and twin Kohler 32KW gen sets) from the rest of the ship’s equipment and systems, which generally prefer a cooler environment. As a result, the 22’x15’ engine room is one of the cleanest and most uncluttered you will find anywhere. There are several nice touches in the engine room worth noting:
1) While the engine room air intakes are relatively low on the hull (about 3’10” above the waterline) there is a sophisticated baffle system on the intakes to filter out water and salt spray. This system also has horizontal louvers which automatically close to shut off oxygen in case of an engine room fire.
2) In addition to the centralized self-priming bilge pump that can be directed to any one of three compartments, there is an emergency thru-hull valve on the engine raw water intakes that make use of the powerful engine water pumps to evacuate water in the engine room. The levers for these valves are painted red and are restrained with a sealed wire to prevent inadvertent use.
3) Ferretti places not one – but two -- Rule bilge pumps in a metal basket to strain out “stuff” that always finds its way into the bilge, and keeps the pumps from getting clogged. This is super attention to detail, and typical of Ferretti’s thoughtful engineering.
Forward of the engine room thru a watertight hatch is the “Systems Equipment Room.” Here you will find the AC chiller system, the watermaker, fresh water pumps, workbench, and among other things, the electrical panel and transformer. The latter is one of the most professional installations I have seen.
Forward of the equipment room, through another hatch are the crew quarters. Like everything else on the boat, they are carefully designed, with two snug cabins port and starboard separated by a dinette big enough for four. The cabins each have Pullman berths to permit more room if you only have two in the crew. Also in the crew quarters: a two-burner stove, fridge, sink, full-size washer and dryer, plus a flat-screen TV.
One of the benefits of putting the crew quarters and the equipment rooms between the master stateroom and the engines is the introduction of two extra bulkheads and over 10 feet between the master and the engine room. That translates into one of the quietest master staterooms on the market in this size boat.
The 881 is 180,000 pounds wet (156,000-lbs. dry), and that weight gives her the authority to plunge into choppy seas without bouncing around like a cork. Her weight, together with her 22-foot beam makes her as comfortable a boat as you’re likely to find at this size and performance, and perhaps that is why the company does not feel the need to add stabilizers as standard equipment. Of course, to drive this weight and beam at 30 knots takes muscle – and a lot of coal -- even with its computer-designed hull and shallow 12-degree deadrise at the transom.
Engines and Fuel Burn
The twin 2000-hp 16V MTUs will burn about 200 GPH at 30 knots (with a 320 NM range). At 2000 rpm, the boat goes about 23 knots and burns 129 GPH (375 NM range). You want to make a long haul? Drop down to 10 knots, burn 16 GPH and travel about 1400 nautical miles on a load of fuel. That almost makes the boat a long-range cruiser!
The Devil is in the Details
I have spent the better part of three days on the boat and there are a number of things that I would like to point out that I feel show Ferretti’s attention to detail:
The dashboard at the helm is black, just the like the one on your car and for the same reason, to cut down on reflection in the windshield at night and in fog.
In the galley there is a “peninsula” instead of an island, which provides much needed counter space without taking up a lot of room. The Pullman bunks in the port and starboard guest cabins allow these cabins to each sleep three, making them ideal for children and it enhances the chartering ability of the boat because 10 guests can be tucked away instead of eight – or, instead of 6, which is all you can fit into a three-guestroom motoryacht, which is not uncommon in this size range..
Finally, the joiner work – mostly high-gloss cherry -- throughout the boat is first rate. Italian craftsmanship goes hand-in-hand with beautiful design to produce a finish second to none. For the most part all of the fixtures hinges and clasps are first rate throughout the boat.
What I Would Change
Having listed all of the things that I like about the boat, now it is time to mention what I would change on the boat, since we all know that no boat is perfect and all are a compromise. Happily, my changes can all be made with a minimum of fuss.
First, I would upgrade the davit on the boat deck from 880-lb. capacity to at least 1,600-lbs. allowing you to have a heavy dinghy aboard, a larger engine, with a margin of safety if there is water in the bilge of the tender or there is a shock load on the cable. I would raise the engine room air intakes to the cabin sides, getting them another 2’ above the waterline (thus protecting them from a 25-degree plus roll and a high quartering following sea).
The “teak beach” is a super attribute and one usually seen on megayachts, but the large, unbroken transom surface when it is tucked away, desperately needs some of that Italian styling to make it look more attractive. A long name and homeport, plus a creative paint job might be just the answer. The stairway from the main salon to the flying bridge needs a handrail. There are two hydraulically actuated side doors just abaft the helm in the cabin, but I would make one of them mechanical in case of electrical or hydraulic failure.
The power-actuated seat at the helm is slow and the chair is clunk-looking. I’d replace it with a Stidd. And finally, since Ferretti has made the best bilge pump system in the industry with their twin pumps in a screening basket package – why not solve the other bilge pump problem and get rid of those Rule float switches? In my experience they get easily stuck by stuff in the bilge? There are a couple of alternative designs on the market which I think are far better.
Behind the Scenes
If you are seriously considering a boat in this size range, or if you are looking at one of the smaller Ferretti yachts, there are some other things you should know about how Ferretti builds boats. I am mentioning them because in my 35 years in the boating industry, I find them to be unusual or noteworthy. And while many companies utilize some of these techniques, materials and practices, the total package is truly remarkable. It is this background that has made the Ferretti brand so respected, and to some degree, so expensive.
Ferretti engineers use sophisticated computer programs to design their hulls. As a result, according to the company, they can predict speeds within a half-knot. This means less trial and error in hull design. Also, submerged appendages can account for up to 15% of resistance at high speeds, so the company works at optimizing their shapes in the computer.
Ferretti is the only company that I know of that applies its gel coat with a brush. Why? Simply because when gel coat is sprayed on millions of miniscule air bubbles are trapped between the gel coat and the mold, leaving a microscopic pits in the boat’s surface. That pit will quickly fill with dirt. Once the boat is waxed a time or two that dirt cannot be removed and the boat will lose its high-gloss shine. Also, when gel coat is sprayed on more styrene or solvent must be mixed in to make it flow through the spray gun. According to the company styrene is an element that reacts unfavorably to ultraviolet rays, turning the gel coat yellow in time.
After the gel coat, Ferretti uses vinylester resin in the first four layers of its laminate to reduce the chance of blistering and to retard water migration. Also, this resin – which costs twice as much as orthophalic resin – shrinks less when curing and is less likely to display “pattern show-thru.” Ferretti uses numerous layers of glass cloth with Kevlar or a similar aramidic fiber woven in. This ads stiffness and strength and reduces weight. The company claims that their laminates are 25% lighter than conventional all-glass construction. Ferretti uses only PVC foam in its sandwich construction above the waterline in hull sides and decks. No balsa core.
The 881’s 2378-gallon fuel tank is a single fiberglass tank with baffles molded into the bottom of the boat close to the longitudinal center of gravity. I like this tank arrangement for a number of reasons. First, you don’t have to worry about and aluminum tank splitting on a welded seam, corroding, or coming adrift from its mounts in a rough sea. Second, all of the fuel is in one tank that automatically balances and trims itself. Third, it provides a “second” bottom for the boat in case of puncture in that area.
The 881 also has what Ferretti calls a “decantation system” to “filter” out water and impurities from the fuel before reaching the double Racor filters. Basically, they have molded in a 200-gallon sump in the main fuel tank where impurities, water and sludge can settle and be likely to be sucked up by the fuel pick-up. This is a good idea.
There is 317 gallons of water tankage. Obviously you will want to keep your watermaker in good working order if you are going to do any extensive cruising, or have two watermakers.
The 881 is a very well-built and engineered boat that is versatile and should fulfill most people’s cruising needs. It is state-of-the-art for its class and should provide years of good service for the person fortunate enough to be able to afford it.
By Jeff Hammond